Total Rewards Asia Summit 2024 Singapore
3 things C-suite leaders should note in creating a conducive, innovative & experiential workplace

3 things C-suite leaders should note in creating a conducive, innovative & experiential workplace

Prioritising flexible working arrangements, retaining Gen Z employees in a multi-generational workplace, effective communication, and more; here's what our panel had to share at the recent Talent & Tech Asia Summit 2024, as reported by Sarah Gideon.

The needs of the business and workforce are continuing to change, driven by advances in technology and the current social, geopolitical and economic climate. Rapid adaptability and resilience are no longer just buzzwords, but cornerstones for a thriving organisation.

In a panel discussion at the recent Talent & Tech Asia Summit 2024, we had the pleasure of bringing together C-suite people leaders to discuss real-life challenges in people management, and how this can contribute to building highly elastic HR policies.

Taking the stage were the following leaders (pictured above, from L-R)

  • Moderator: Jayaram Philkana, Global HR Transformation Leader, Crop Protection BU, Syngenta,
  • Gerald Yeo, Marketing Director, Asia Pacific Breweries (A Heineken Company),
  • Meghna Shukla, Vice President HR, AMEA & Global Commercial Excellence, Barry Callebaut Group, and
  • Justin Low, Chief Communications and Talent Experience Officer, APAC, Omnicom Media Group 

The conversation centred around the three key areas of focus, as follows: 

#1: The importance of balancing employee needs with organisational outcomes in implementing flexible work arrangements

One of the speakers shared from their experience that through listening to the needs of both employees and supervisors, certain roles in the workplace do not require workers to come to office. 

"There is no one-size fits all solution.

"For certain types of roles, it's okay for people to be away from the workplace for a longer time; while for certain other roles, you need to be in the workplace, and finally, for some others, you need to be somewhere in between." 

Concurring that, one other speaker highlighted that one of the measures implemented in their organisation was the notion of flexibility, in terms of work arrangements. In particular, employees are given the flexibility of deciding the time they come to, and leave, the office.

However, the dilemma prevails: "While we have flexibility, we also need to make sure that the equity for the company across the employee workforce is also held constant."

#2: How to bring people policies together to serve both the shortage of skillsets, and the oversupply of certain skills 

Another crucial focus is the need to see employees as not just as an asset to the organisation, but a customer asset, as one of the panellists highlighted. "When we are talking about our employees, the humans in our organisation, we are talking about a very important audience."

An organisation can, they added, be seen an organism – and it is extremely important to understand that an organisation is not static. 

"It has multiple people, multiple dimensions. skill sets are changing externally."

To that effect, it is important that your people are part of the decision-making process when designing HR policies, as the employees will know what is best for other employees.

Another point shared by this speaker was that of all the skills required for an employee, the most crucial one should be agility. 

"[Whether it's] learning agility or mental agility – that spectrum is important to be able to enable in the work practice which is more responsive, something that is more human, and something that is more inspiring." 

#3: The importance of understanding and catering to the needs of Gen Z employees

As can be affirmed, different generations in the workforce bring their different needs – and with Gen Z now settling into the workforce, leaders all around are continuing to face new challenges (and opportunities!) in meeting the new kinds of needs this generation comes with.

For instance, one speaker raised the concern that due to the location of the office, many potential employees, particularly from Generation Z, may not want to travel so far into a less populated area, where public transportation is scarce, and food is also limited. 

To address this, their organisation arranged for shuttle services to ferry employees to a more convenient area for employees to either come to work or return home from a long day. 

"It is actually a substantial investment, but we decided as a management team that this is the right thing for us to do."

To address the concern on access to food, the organisation had developed an in-house canteen for employees to enjoy a warm meal within the premises of the building, such that they would not need to travel far during their lunch break to grab a bite.

"We have a varied selection of food choices in a clean, modern environment, just to make that better for them." 

Another speaker noted their point of view: "I think we operate in a certain way, and that Gen Z too, operate in a certain way.

"I think that tension is sometimes healthy, because it forces us as leaders to understand and try to understand what matters to the younger generation."

As an example. the speaker shared that based on their annual employee survey, it was revealed that many employees that fall under the Gen Z demographic are asking for more attention on mental wellness packages.

"Being able to understand what the needs are of the Gen Z workforce, and then as a leader from a slightly older generation, we know what needs to be done.

"And finding that balance is super important in ensuring that we continue to listen to our employees, but at the same time, we also have the experience of being in the industry for a while to put on a lens of reasonability at the end and then move forward with a particular plan."

They ended by sharing how though these HR policies may not be fail-proof or always successful, it is important to be open to learning on-the-go. 

"Talk to the employees and understand [them] more, hoping you have a certain mechanism that leads to the feedback you need. Listen to them and then put on a lens of a senior leader, and then come to a compromise in terms of the HR policy."

The discussion also addressed the following topics:

  • Effective communication and alignment of internal and external messaging in an organisation 

One speaker shared that in the past, there were designated communication tracks for both internal and external communication. 

However, they said: "I think nowadays with social media, the message that I craft from our internal notes, I craft with a mindset that it is going to be external at some point."

The speaker explained that, given the ability of people to share information with journalists and the press, which then appears on social media, they must carefully craft communications that are consistent both internally and externally to ensure that if the information does become public, the messaging remains aligned.

  • Criteria when considering workplace flexibility, remote work, and employee wellbeing

Another speaker shared that consulting an external organisation helped improve the impartiality of designing effective criteria.

On that note, they shared three key criteria that are necessary to consider before implementing flexible working arrangements: 

  1. The amount of collaboration required between colleagues,
  2. The regulatory requirements, and
  3. Whether you hold a role that requires you to teach somebody else as part of your job description.

These are just some of the insights shared at our Talent Tech Asia Summit 2024 (TTAS)Head over here for the full coverage of some other sessions at the event. 

Held at Shangri-La Singapore on 15 & 16 May 2024, TTAS saw more than 200 HR professionals gather to gain insights on emerging technologies and megatrends that are profoundly changing people management practices and therefore forging a people-centred future of work in this tech-driven landscape.

Human Resources Online would like to thank all speakers, moderators, panellists, and attendees for being valuable contributors to this event. 

We would also like to extend our gratitude to our sponsors & partners for making this conference possible: 


Sterling Lexicon

Jobstreet by SEEK
Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP)


READ MORE: From recruitment to employee engagement: Key uses of gen AI in HR

Lead image / HRO

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